In this week’s Gospel Jesus prays for you and me, and for all who ever have and ever will follow him. He prays that we will be loved, protected and made holy. He sees that his time on earth will be brief, but wants to live on in us. He is going home to the Father, yet staying with us in the Holy Spirit. And as he was sent by the Father into this world, he now sends us out to continue his work.
Perhaps it is because his Passion is so near, that Jesus so clearly and precisely explains two major premises of the Christian Covenant. He prays that we will be one, as he and the Father are one… and you can’t get any closer than that. We are not to be one just with our family. We are not to be one just with our nice neighbors, with “our kind of people.” We are not to be one just with the saintly, the healthy, the smart, the sweet smelling, the un-addicted. We are to be one with all of God’s children… the good, the bad and the ugly, the near and the far. And that takes a whole lot more than bumper sticker compassion, as we speed past the wreckage that so many are making of their lives.
Where to start? First, each of us must get right with God every day. If we don’t take the time to be one with God, we’ll never be one with our neighbor. And that means prayer. Long before there was Twitter, there was prayer. It’s faster than Tweets and has no character count limitations. It is express to the top and infinitely more reliable than Wikipedia. Constant contact with Jesus fills the day with endless opportunities to witness his love. In encouragement and assistance, in kindness and courtesy, in giving and sharing, we become one with Jesus. And as we draw closer to Christ, the spiritual gravity of grace draws those in the orbit of our lives right along with us towards God… the epicenter of love.
The second concept is a mind bender. Jesus tells us that we: do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. We are all resident aliens, here on a “green card” to do the work of our Lord. And when the harvest is in and our contract is up, we are going home.
We are in the world, but not of the world. It is an article of faith that we should have tattooed on our souls. It is Christ’s parting message before he leaves for the cross. By his death and Resurrection we are redeemed and, each in our turn, will be welcomed home – to live eternally in the grace of God with all who have gone before and all who will follow.
There are no parables, miracles or action narratives in this gospel. It is just Jesus, facing the cross, speaking directly to the Father, praying for the apostles and for us. There is a time for learning. And there is a time for acting. The threshold between is this time of consecration. Jesus prays to the Father that we may be consecrated to carry on his work in the world. That is the whole purpose of his teaching. We don’t study scripture to become the smartest kid in Sunday school. We learn to bolster our faith, to build on the grace of our Baptism and to put it all to work in the service of God.
To be consecrated means to be set aside for God’s purpose. To be a Christian is not a credential for country club membership. It is our job. It is a constant, real-world, real-time commitment to follow Christ in all things by loving God and serving our neighbor.
In this gospel, Jesus tells us that we are just visiting here. But we are not tourists. We are guest workers… here to do Christ’s work in the world. Let’s make the most of it. Live consciously in God’s service. One kindness… one forgiveness… one sacrifice at a time… we are working our way home… returning to God as the people he made us to be. And what a welcome awaits us when we get back home… and when we are truly one with God.
The Reverend David Sellery, Episcopal Priest, Author, and Coach. Fr. Sellery presently serves as Priest-in-Charge, St. John’s Salisbury, CT. Fr. Sellery has excelled at using new media to increase outreach beyond the Church doors via his website, blog posts, and podcasts.
Image: Last Supper by Piasecki